Italian Brioche

Nothing takes my mind straight back to Italy more so than a freshly baked Brioche! I am instantly transported to Milan, walking by the Duomo and the scent that wafts by....This little twist adds in the flavours of Panettone... nom nom nom!

Ingredients

15g fresh yeast OR 7 grams of dried yeast

70ml full fat milk - 35 degrees celcius

500g strong high protein flour

13g fine salt

30g caster sugar (superfine)

300g eggs - whole (approx 6 large)

350g good quality unsalted butter at room temp and cubed

1 cup diced cervo

1 cup organic sultanas

A nip or 2 of Strega liquor (30ml approx)

Finally grated zest of 1 medium organic washed lemon (You can chose to use orange or mandarin or lime, or a combination, what ever tickles your fancy!)

1 egg and a dash of water for an egg wash

Method

In a small bowl, place the yeast and milk - I would recommend you warm the milk to 35 degree Celsius for fast activation. Set aside in a warm corner with a towel on top for 15 minutes while the yeast rave party get's started!

Rehrydrate the sultanas by placing them into a small micro wave proof container and pour over almost enough Strega liquor to cover them. Microwave for 30 seconds. Give it a stir and microwave again for another 30 seconds. Leave aside to cool in the hot liquor until you need them (remember to drain them off before you throw them into your brioche dough!)

Sift together into your mixer bowl the flour, salt, sugar. Fit your dough hook to your mixer. turn on the machine on low and add in the eggs and yeast rave party. Once incorporated, turn up to speed 2 or 3 (still slow and even) for 10 to 12 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, elastic and coming away from the edges of the bowl.

Once the dough is coming away from the sides of the bowl, start to feed in the cubes of butter (don't get lazy here and throw it all in one heap!!). Add in the lemon (or citrus zest of your choice. Continue the dough mixing until the dough is all incorporated again and coming away from the edges again.

Remove the dough hook, and cover the bowl with cling wrap (plastic wrap) and let the dough do it's thing for an hour.

Knock back the dough with a bit of light in the bowl action of kneading (It will be super soft and sticky). Add in the drained off sultans and diced cervo. Knead it in well. Cover again with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. At this point you can leave it in the fridge over night on a retarded rise, matter of fact, I recommend it, but I have made it with just 1 hour in the fridge and it's frankly fabulous too.

Butter your brioche moulds - you can use the traditional (for that wavy appearance on the outside) or silicone moulds. A muffin tin will do or let it free-form - choice is yours!

Divide up the brioche batter - it's your choices on sizes, all that changes is the baking time. For 50g divisions, bake for 25 mins. For 100g, bake for 35 mins. Basically until they are they are golden brown.

Work each ball of dough on your work bench, roll into a ball. Then with side of your hand, roll the ball ton a back and forth motion to create a snowman looking dough (large ball on the bottom with a knob on top). Here is the tricky bit to describe and I recommend youtube to see this in action, with your thumb, poke a donut whole through the large ball and pull the smaller, knob thorough it, to create the traditional brioche bun look. Place them into their individual moulds. Cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm spot for a good hour for their final rise to glory!

Pre-heat your oven to 200c. Brush each bricohe with an egg wash (1 egg with a dash of water mixed in) and bake until golden brown. Once you remove the brioche from the oven, let them sit for 5 minutes then remove them from the moulds. If you leave them in the moulds you will loose the crunchy shell of the brioche bun as the humidity of cooling will making them soggy. Enjoy! I like them hot with a nice hot cino to dip them into!